Massachusetts House of Representatives Passes Transgender Bill

Protesters gathered at the State House to condemn the legislation on Wednesday.

State House

Photo via / mizoula

Massachusetts lawmakers took another step towards ensuring protection for transgender individuals on Wednesday.

According to the Boston Globe, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of a transgender public accommodations bill, despite hours of contentious debate and an outcry from protesters gathered at the State House.

The bill, which passed by a margin of 116-36, would allow people to use public restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. The measure would also give transgender people protection from being discriminated against at other public venues, such as malls and restaurants.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who has been criticized in the past for not speaking out on this issue, recently said that he would sign the House’s bill should it come to his desk.

Democratic Rep. John V. Fernandes of Milford, who helped write the bill, compared the fight to end transgender discrimination to other civil rights movements.

“You can’t tell somebody it’s OK to work at the diner, but not OK to sit at the lunch counter. We learned that a long time ago,” Fernandes said, according to the Globe.

While the bill received bipartisan support with eight Republicans voting in favor of it, not every Massachusetts Democrat was on board.

Rep. Collen Garry, a Democrat from Dracut, told the Boston Herald that she thinks allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice is a “real safety issue.”

“I don’t believe that transgendered individuals are dangerous, but it is those pedophiles who will use this as cover,” she said.

The House’s bill will now go to a conference committee where legislators will work out the differences between it and the Senate’s version, which was approved last month.